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Who is this Ken Davis guy, anyway?

Once upon a time there was a jazz bassist and entrepreneur from Nebraska named Ken Davis.

He was a great big bear of a man, imposing both in size and audacity. Wearing dark glasses and sporting a big cigar, he appeared on the Minnesota horizon in the mid 1960's. People in these parts had never encountered anyone quite like him.

Ken opened a restaurant in Minneapolis in the late 1960's. Like many trendy eating joints of the time, they served chicken, ribs and pizza - carry out or delivery. And they served a GREAT barbecue sauce.

There was only one thing wrong with the barbecue sauce - there was no recipe. Like his grandmother who taught him how to make the sauce, Ken made it by combining a little of this and a little of that until it tasted and looked right. If he was out of something, he substituted something else. As a result, the barbecue sauce was different every time.

Finally, at the urging of his customers and staff, Ken hired Home Economist, Barbara Jo Taylor, to help perfect his grandmother's tasty barbecue sauce. (He later married her to keep the secret in the family.) Barbara worked with Ken's staff, trying different mixtures until everyone was happy with the sauce. Then. . . she wrote it all down.

In 1970 Ken closed the restaurant, loaded his station wagon with barbecue sauce and, cigar in hand, started driving around to the local supermarkets. He had no money. No banker or financier would talk to him. The Small Business Administration thought he was crazy. "You can't go up against the big national brands: they will slaughter you." Of course, that sounded like a challenge to Ken. "Don't worry", he said, "I'll make it with you or without you."

Every day he would take whatever money he had, buy ingredients to make barbecue sauce, load it into the car and talk store managers into taking it on consignment.

Much to his surprise, KEN DAVIS® Barbecue Sauce quickly became Minnesota's favorite, outselling even the national brands. But Ken didn't stop going door-to-door. He continued his personal campaign to get to know his customers.

The way people found out about KEN DAVIS® Barbecue Sauce was mostly by word-of-mouth and in-store sampling and, of course, by meeting and listening to Ken.

Ken always said that his competitors spent money on advertising, but his money went back into the product, which used only the very finest ingredients.

"Leave the price wars to others; we'll never cheapen our product."

According to Ken, the best way to get people hooked is to put the product in their mouths. Often when Ken was driving around, he would spot someone having a barbecue. To their astonishment, he'd pull over and hand them a bottle of KEN DAVIS® Barbecue Sauce. Imagine the story they had to tell!

Ken Davis died in 1991, but the company he founded is still local and still specializing in fine sauces. And the philosophy has not changed either - listen to your consumers and give them the best product you can make.

KEN DAVIS® BAR-B-Q-SAUCE comes in a variety of flavors. The Original, Sweet & Sassy, Classic 2 Carb and Sassy 2 Carb Sauces are sold in supermarkets throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Northern Iowa.

Summit Rhine Inc - ph. 952.215.0462